KIRAN: Despite certified letter, Clinton officials claim they never received second notice

Clinton officials claim they weren't aware of second notice about water deficiencies

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - After a series of 9News investigations, Clinton’s water issues bubbled to the surface at Tuesday’s town hall meeting.

The meeting had its fiery moments, with so many people in the town wanting to know the condition of their water and the town’s only running well. When the meeting ended after two and a half hours, we tried to ask Mayor Lori Bell for clarification to some of her answers, but a Clinton police officer, acting as her bodyguard, tried to push us out of the way.

KIRAN: Mayor, did you receive the second notice giving you only 30 days?

MAYOR: You can speak with my attorney.

Mayor Bell was escorted out by a Clinton PD officer, telling us to talk to her attorney.

The biggest question at Tuesday’s meeting was why did the Town of Clinton sit on a 90-day notice from the Louisiana Department of Health? That notice cited 22 deficiencies, 15 of those significant that the town needed to address. When the town did nothing, the state sent out a second notice, this one giving them 30 more days to fix the issues or face penalties and or fines. That letter was certified received by Clinton on Dec. 17, 2018, beginning the 30-day countdown, but at Tuesday’s meeting, the maintenance clerk claims the town never received that second notice.

“The date that has been given, of January 17, has been given through the media and through hearsay. There has not been a letter that has been presented to the Town of Clinton that says that we have to have it by January 17. Now mind you, we will have it and everything will be taken care of, but that number, that date, is a figment of someone’s imagination,” said Ursula Shaw, Clinton’s maintenance clerk.

We tried to clarify with the mayor herself, but she directed us to her attorney, Niles Haymer.

KIRAN: The mayor is claiming she did not receive the second notice giving her 30 days. Is that true?

HAYMER: That is what the mayor is saying that she did not receive the notice, but my issue once again is the fact that we are criminalizing this.

“This is potentially criminal in that when the state sent the letter back in September giving the mayor 90 days to comply with their recommendations and requirements and nothing was done, that could potentially constitute malfeasance. It is a ministerial duty and it is about the most basic duty that a government can provide: safe water for its citizens,” said East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chief Greg Phares.

State inspectors were in Clinton Monday, but have not finished their report just yet. It’s why some of the citizens asked the interim maintenance superintendent what the state found. One of the things he told them was that the state found even more deficiencies.

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